Brentford 1 Hartlepool 1: Nelson strike steals Gayle's thunder

Colchester in prime position to join Southend in Championship as Brentford falter
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A bundled last-minute equaliser from Michael Nelson gave Hartlepool a stay of execution for another week. But the draw virtually killed off Brentford's automatic promotion chances. The west London side need to overhaul a three-point gap to Colchester on the last day of the season to go up.

Callum Willock, who scored his first goal for Brentford in the 3-1 win against the Swindon last week, was the man chosen to replace Lloyd Owusu, who suffered a torn groin muscle during a midweek friendly against Stuttgart. The former Peterborough man though, was outperformed by veteran Marcus Gayle, who imposed himself on the game with a series of purposeful knock-downs and flick-ons as the home side pushed forward in numbers.

Just as impressive for Martin Allen's busy Bees was Jay Tabb. The 22-year-old winger was in fine form, delivering a succession of pinpoint crosses from the left wing.

Hartlepool seemed to lack confidence for most of the first half, and found it difficult to break down Brentford's strong defensive line, which was expertly led by Sam Sodje. Joel Porter failed to convert a chance from 12 yards just before half time, the young midfielder shooting over the bar after good work from Michael Barron.

The visitors went even closer inside the opening five minutes of the second half as Michael Proctor's low shot rebounded off the post.

Allen - a man more often associated with animated behaviour - could only look on nervously as his side continued to dominate in the second half, but lost their cutting edge.

His cries from the technical area became more vociferous as the game drew on, and the introduction of the striker Alex Rhodes to replace midfielder Ricky Newman served only to frustrate the Griffin Park crowd further. But a sweetly curled free-kick by Kevin O'Connor, with six minutes to go, looked to have given the home side a crucial three points, before Nelson equalised.